Entering Liminal Space with Cathy Hegman

For Cathy Hegman, her art is her life, both literally and physically.

Mississippi-based contemporary painter Cathy Hegman creates figurative works comprised of bits and pieces of those who have impacted her throughout her life. Always obscured, the fragmented figures seem to oscillate in and out of their environments, creating a visual bridge for the viewer to enter the painting through. "Painting the mundane and often ordinary thoughts and moments of life, illuminates a common linkage and metaphorically forms a bond between the artist and the viewer." In preparing for the "Liminal Space" exhibition, Kelsey sat down with Cathy to discuss her thoughts and intentions with the body of work in the show- read on to hear Cathy's responses.

Cathy Hegman (image courtesy of TEW Galleries)

Kelsey: How do you feel your artwork interacts with the theme of Liminal Space?

Cathy: In my art life, it has always been about what is to come and everything that comes is an amalgamation of what has been. My work builds from one painting to the next and the time that I spend creating the painting is the very definition of liminal space. I am in the unknown and there is something evolving and growing from it and I simply have to stay out of the way and let it occur.

Kelsey: Do you have hobbies outside of your artwork that inform your artistic process?

Cathy: I enjoy anything that is an act of creating. I enjoy photography and sewing. I am a huge animal advocate. I think my rural environment and my love of animals enters my work often. My figures are always in some form of an environment, often it is as ambiguous as the figure but I try to find a balance that links them and entertains the notion that one cannot exist without the other.

Kelsey: Do you have any artists you look to as inspiration, or whose work yours is in conversation with?

Cathy: I am so inspired by so many artists and have been throughout my life. Years ago in college, my favorite artist was Gustav Klimt, and I never tired of his work so he might be the most inspiring artist.

Kelsey: How do you approach a new idea for a piece and how does it take shape throughout your process?

Cathy: I build new work on my previous work. The figurative work has always been my emphasis. I simply have never been able to get away from the figurative. I almost always work in a series of paintings, which keeps me focused and forces me to have some parameters in my work. I have some series of works created 10 years ago that I am still adding more pieces to. Some of my series have been profound in my mind and they just continually beg me to add more paintings to them.

Kelsey: Have you been in any liminal spaces that left an impression on you (empty hallways or stores, gas stations at night, etc.)?

Cathy: I think I delve into many liminal mental spaces. I probably do not notice the physical ones as much as others, as most of my life I am alone in my studio and I have the privilege of having the time to really deeply think about things that otherwise might not surface in a more peopled environment.

Kelsey: The work you've brought in for this exhibition uses a lot of floral motifs. I noticed that on your blog, you talked about the rose wallpaper of your childhood. Are the other floral patterns part of similar memories?

Cathy: I grew up in the country, so my love of the natural landscape is pretty profound. I also love waterlilies. Years ago I had two koi ponds and many waterlilies, perhaps that time of life still makes me love the lilies and the watery life of the koi ponds. Waterlilies appear often in my work.

Kelsey: I am particularly in love with the Ophelia triptych. What made you want to approach that subject?

Cathy: I am very connected to water as I live on the bank of The Big Sunflower River which on occasion floods and impacts life dramatically. I always felt Ophelia was a poignant tale and the parts of it that I found most interesting were the torn feelings Ophelia had for her father Palonius and for Hamlet and the deceptions that ensued and the results of the deceptions which lead to her demise. The story has all the elements needed to inspire a painting, unrequited love, forbidden love, deception, misinterpretation, madness, and death. I almost always paint her in water with lilies surrounding her with beauty.

Cathy Hegman | Water for Ophelia | 48x72 (triptych) | Acrylic on canvas | 2022
John Everett Millais (1829-1896) | Ophelia | 30x44" | Oil on canvas | c. 1851 | Collection of Tate Britain (image courtesy of the Google Art Project)

"Liminal Space" is on display at Lily Pad | West through November 20. Stop in to view the exhibition in person, or view us online:

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